I’m in a co-working space and have to conduct some rather delicate phone calls with clients and suppliers. Should I be worried that others can hear me? Or do I just need my own space?
Co-working spaces provide marvellous advantages to a business, including collaboration, learning and networking.
Sharing information is also considered an advantage until such an exchange leads to issues concerning a breach of confidence or privacy.
Here is the “heads-up” as to what a business ought to consider when receiving a “delicate” phone call when operating in a co-working space:
1. Nature of your business
You may be conducting a business in which the law imposes confidential information, such as between a lawyer and client or doctor and patient?
The law, in certain instances, also imposes the obligation of privacy, such as under the Privacy Act, upon certain credit providers. Does this apply to you?
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Perhaps you have a contractual obligation, such as that imposed by a confidentiality agreement or tender document?
If you do have such obligations, locating in a co-working space where disclosure of such information is possible might not be right for you.
2. Nature of the information disclosed
Are any disclosures from a client or supplier of a commercially sensitive nature, such as pricing, profit margins or proposed business plans?
In such cases, you may suggest that such information be sent by email or instant message, as you value the commercially sensitive nature of the information disclosed and can respond accordingly.
Are the matters disclosed of a personal nature, such as the latest rumour concerning an executive or employee of the client or supplier?
In such cases, if you wish to hear such information, then perhaps re-locating to a private conference room or otherwise outside the co-working space may be more appropriate.
3. Asking the client or supplier about the information
Often the best person to determine whether the information disclosed is confidential is the person making the disclosure.
Ask whether such information is public knowledge and, in any event, can disclosure of information concerning clients, business partners or suppliers be made without their prior authorisation or approval.
Would the disclosure of such information to a third person, or placement on any social or business networking sites, web-based forums or message boards, or other internet sites, be in breach of confidence?
Asking such questions serves a dual purpose of preventing you from getting into trouble with your clients or suppliers, while also showing consideration for their position.
4. Nature of your co-working space
Most co-working spaces will have conference or breakout rooms for private discussions. Consider using such spaces if available.
Co-working is a great concept for most businesses, but like any shared workspace, it can present challenges that may require some preparation or compromises on your part.
Being aware of such issues is sometimes half the battle.